Macronutrients are one of the most important aspects of fitness and nutrition. If you have been around fitness for even one day, you may have overheard someone talking about "hitting their macros", and you're wondering what they are and if "hitting your macros", can help you. Yes, whatever your fitness goal is, weight loss, muscle growth, general health, strength, etc, following your macronutrients will get you to your fitness goals even faster.
Let me break down what a macronutrient is. Macros consist of protein, carbohydrates (carbs), and fats. These three nutrients make up all of our food that we eat throughout the day and determine how you feel, look, and live.
The most important of these three is protein. Proteins are your meat sources, not hot dogs and hamburgers (get that shit out of here), but your poultry, fish, lean beef. Protein is the building blocks of all life and have a ton of uses, but I will focus on the fitness aspects of them for the sake of the topic. First off, every gram of protein consists of 4 calories, for example, a 4oz chicken breast has roughly 22 grams of protein, which equates to 88 calories of protein. Protein is so important to our diet because it builds lean tissue (muscle, skin, organs, etc). Look back at another post of mine, how to lose weight, to understand why building muscle is crucial. Now down to the numbers. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein 0.8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight a day. Now I remind you this is the minimum for you to not get sick, and is nowhere near what an active person should be consuming. I personally recommend eating 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight that you want to be at. Example, if you're 150lbs, and want to be 140, you would eat 140 grams of protein per day (vice versa if you're trying to gain weight). This will ensure we not only maintain the current muscle we have, but will create new muscle and lean tissue to help us raise our metabolism and burn off that unwanted fat!
Next up to the plate is carbohydrates. Carbs are your primary source of energy for exercise and the prefered source of energy by your brain. Carbohydrates in a generic sense are sugars, and can be easily over looked on the question of "how did I gain all of this weight". Carbs consist of your breads, pastas, sweets, vegetables, fruit, grains, oats, and dairy products, which some of these are good and then obviously some of them are bad. Let's start with what you shouldn't ever touch, your breads, pastas, sweets, grains, dairy products, and anything else made with flour or refined sugars. These are addictive foods, studies show these bad carbs are just as, if not more addictive than cocaine. If that's not enough, then all of these bad carbs are inflammatories, which cause all of your aches and pains, and are linked to multiple diseases. JUST DON'T EAT THEM! Now, to the good carbs, fruits and vegetables. These are loaded with vitamins and proper nutrients that the body needs to perform well, and don't have any garbage added into them. A little trick to know if it is good or bad, is to just eat as close to nature as possible, or is it man-made or can I get this from nature itself. Each gram of carbs has 4 calories, just like protein. The Daily Reference Intake (DRI) value for Carbohydrates are between 45% to 65% of your caloric needs. Now for a weight loss client, I say stick to the low end of that and hit the 35% to 45%. Only go above this if you're and endurance athlete and/or trying to gain weight.
Last one, Fats.. Fats consist of your oils, butters, the crap on the side of your juicy steak that no one eats, but yet they charge you for it anyways... There are 2 types of fats, saturated fats (bad) and unsaturated fats (good). Saturated fats are your butters, beef, dairy, pizza (yes I know sad, but I am not sorry, 300+ calories in 1 slice of pizza...), These should be kept at an absolute minimum, being only 10% max of your diet. The unsaturated fats would be nuts, healthy oils, fish products, and avocado. These are healthy fats and improve your cardiovascular system. Each fat gram consists of 9 calories, which is more than double of protein and carbs. With that being said, all fats should only consist of 20% to 35% of your daily diet. I recommend 25% of your diet goes to fats, with keeping saturated fats as low as you can possibly get them!
With all that being said, here is the calorie comparison for each macronutrient.
Protein: 1 gram = 4 calories
Carbohydrate: 1 gram = 4 calories
Fat: 1 gram = 9 calories
(Alcohol: 1 gram = 7 calories)
Here are the RDA recommendations compared to mine, DC, recommendations (weight loss).
Protein RDA: 0.8 grams per Kg of bodyweight.
Protein DC: 1 gram per lb bodyweight you want to be.
Carbs DRI: 45% - 65% of diet.
Carbs DC: 35% - 45% of diet.
Fats RDA: 20% - 35% of diet.
Fats DC: 25% of diet.
Now, lets take a look of my generic recommended diet throughout the topic.
For example, you are 160lbs, want to be 140lbs (-20lbs).
Based off 1,500 calories, create a defecit for weight loss (2,000-500=1,500 calories).
Protein: 140g / 560 calories
Carbs: 35% - 131.25g / 525 calories
Fats: 25% - 41.7g / 375 calories
Total calories: 1,460
Lastly, I want to say that just because something is good for you, does not mean you can't gain weight from it. You can gain weight off of anything if over-consumed. I do not recommend cutting any of these 3 macros out of your diet. Keep your diet balance with these 3 and you will be smashing through your goals in no time at all!
Need more help transforming yourself through exercise and nutrtion? Start the new you today!